On 1/22/14 we said goodbye to New Orleans and Louisiana and made another trip across Lake Pontchartrain and into Mississippi to tour Lazy Magnolia Brewing Company in the city of Kiln. We met with Robert Purvis who walked us around the facilities and explained the brewery’s history and approach. Lazy Magnolia was founded in 2003 by engineers, Mark and Leslie Henderson. After receiving encouragement for their home-brewed creations the couple formed a consulting company Labor Day Weekend 2003 with plans of opening the first packaging brewery in the state of Mississippi since prohibition and with a focus on providing southern inspired brews. Production began in early 2005 with a 15 bbl brewhouse in a small room and a single beer offering – still their most popular – Southern Pecan nut brown ale made with whole roasted pecans, currently sourced from Mascot Pecan Shelling Co. in GA, added directly to the mash. The logo was originally based off of a painting done by Mark of a ‘lazy magnolia’, a term he used for the late blooming magnolia trees providing shade for the couple’s back porch.
We finished out our trek through the state of Louisiana on Monday, 1/20/14, with a visit to NOLA (New Orleans Lager & Ale), located in the Irish Channel right next to the Mississippi River. Kenzie Oescher, their VP of marketing and sales, told us that although ‘lager’ is in the name they don’t actually brew any lagers. However, she went on to tell us that they are working on some recipes for a pale lager right now.
On Saturday, 1/18/14, we headed to a New Orleans neighborhood po-boy shop to fill our stomachs before making the trek 30 miles north across the Lake Pontchartrain Causeway to Abita Brewing Company for their 2pm Saturday tour. An Abita tour is a truly inimitable experience – a free one hour tour where you pour your own beers at their 15 tap bar (14 beers and 1 for their root beer). Despite ample instruction from the taproom employees, we witnessed many patrons comically demonstrate terrible pouring technique. After some time in the spacious taproom sampling beers and listening to a couple informative videos, the tour group is led into the cavernous brewing facility for a quick rundown on the brewing process and Abita’s productive capacity. Needless to say, the tours are well attended and Kathy Tujague, employee of 23 years and Director of the Visitor Center, shared that they had just over 25,500 people come through the doors in 2013.
After leaving Texas, we traveled east on I-10 and paid a visit to Bayou Teche Brewing, located just north of Lafayette, LA in the small Cajun town of Arnaudville. The brewery was opened in 2009 by Karlos Knott and his two brothers, Byron and Dorsey, in a transformed shipping container on the family’s property where they brewed 1 bbl batches on a daily basis, utilizing 6-8 Blichmann 1 bbl fermenters. Growing demand caused them to contract brew with Lazy Magnolia in Mississippi while they worked on expanding operations into the larger facility on the same property that they operate today. Currently, they utilize a 15 bbl brewhouse with 15 and 30 bbl fermenters. Their biere is now available throughout the southeastern United States and also in New York City as New Orleans artists traveling to NYC demanded to have it available and the brewery was contacted by a local distributor. Current head brewer, Gar Hatcher, came by way of Lazy Magnolia to work at Bayou Teche and has been hard at work tweaking recipes and coming up with new offerings.